Wednesday, March 27, 2019

City Council Timeline: Monday, March 25 2019

The  final opportunity for public comment on the City's budget plans and salary recommendations was the highlight note for the Agenda on the night, but as things turned out, interest was light when it came to either topic as the final  Council session for the month of March came to an end by 8:20 Monday evening.

The night's work also explored the latest application for a retail cannabis storefront in the community, as well as a number of zoning and variance requests.

Council members also received a number of presentations from community members, with Council hearing on themes of Rail Safety concerns in the area, the introduction of the Community Paramedicine program in Prince Rupert, as well as some notes on the plans from Transition Prince Rupert to observe Sustainability Month in the city.

Some background on the work of Council on the evening and the various Regular Meeting and Committee of the Whole Agenda elements for the March 25th Council session can be reviewed here.

Council also met in a closed session earlier in the evening, hosting a 5 PM meeting

Further information from our overview and placement in the video archive can be found below, with the permanent record of the minutes added as they are posted to the city website.

In attendance Monday, March 25, 2018

Mayor Lee Brain -- Present 
Councillor Nick Adey --  Present 
Councillor Barry Cunningham-- Present 
Councillor Blair Mirau -- Present 
Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven --  Present 
Councillor Wade Niesh -- Present
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa--  Present 

Video Archive for March 25 , 2019

Committee of the Whole

(0:00 -- 1:00 )  Adoption of Agenda -- The Mayor called the Committee of the Whole meeting to order, outlining the elements of the Committee session.

( 1:00 -- 21:00 ) Presentation from the City's Chief Financial Officer and comments from the Public  -- Ms. Corinne Bomben offered up much of the same material as at the March 11th public consultation, recapping the key points from the city's financial blue print for the year ahead.

Following her presentation, three members of the public spoke to the Budget proposals, the first was Mr. Terry Sawka, who also had spoken at the first Budget consultation of the 11th. 

For his first question he inquired as to how many new positions had been created at City Hall over the last four years, with the Mayor noting that he didn't have the count on those positions off the top of his head.  

Ms. Bomben  then fielded the question to advise that three positions had been created at City Hall with seven city positions created overall in the four year period.

Mr. Sawka's contribution for the March 25th session also  included an observation as to the proposed salary increases proposed for Council members, suggesting that the 12,000 dollar increase for the Mayor and 6,000 for Council was too high.

Towards the salary discussion he asked for clarification on what kind of impact the salary increases would have on the overall budget and tax implications from it.  He was advised that the increase had been incorporated into the budget process, but that the salary increases have not been approved by Council as of yet.

In a follow up question, Mr. Sawka asked if there were any other companies that are using the Watson Island Business Model where they are in default in taxes and just paying the penalty. Ms. Bomben noted that there were none to her knowledge, though she added that a mill in Port Alice is facing some similar situations that faced Prince Rupert a number of years ago.

Keeping to the pulp mill questions, he was advised that in the case of Prince Rupert the Pulp Mill the tax roll overs there were as a result of having different buyers and ownership involved, with provincial intervention taking place previous to the most recent one. 

When asked if there were any other properties in default of property taxes in Prince Rupert, Ms. Bomben noted that each year properties in default go to tax sale each year in September.

Sawka also asked as to how much money the City received from the Casino, Ms. Bomben advised that the close to 400,000 dollars was received which the city then allocates towards community groups through the Community Grant process.

Joe Lewis was the second speaker on the evening, he reviewed some of the infrastructure concerns that the city is faced with, he observed that he didn't think it was an appropriate time to reduce taxes. For the remainder of his contribution he put much of his focus on the need for refurbishment of the trails of the Hays Creek and McClymont areas, advocating for better support for the Fish Hatchery and how Hays Creek needs a habitat restoration, asking that the city put aside some money to address that concern and to assist in improving the returns found in area creeks and streams.

Kate Toye made for the final contribution to the Budget conversation, noting that the City has plans for redevelopment in the downtown area, she inquired as to the process the city will be putting in place for  Redesign Rupert and other initiatives. She made note of a recent email she had forwarded to Council members and observed as to the all male status of the Council membership and suggested that any design work find a way to include a female perspective to any planning work.

( 21:00 -- 31:30 ) Presentation from Colleen Fitzpatrick and Des Nobels of the Prince Rupert Environmental Society on Rail concerns  --  As part of their presentation on Rail safety in the community, leading off Mr. Nobels spoke to a recent presentation from author Bruce Campbell in January in the city, which outlined the background to the Lac Megantic Rail Disaster. 

Mr. Nobels observed that he had hoped at the time that some members of Council might have attended the event, but due to time constraints he imagined that they couldn't take it in. Towards that he offered a number of copies of the presentation for Council members to view on their own time if they wished.

From his notes he outlined a number of the national rail concerns and then focused on the local situation which he noted is now finding a very different type of cargo mix set to come through the entire Northwest on the way to Prince Rupert.

Noting that in previous years the majority of the freight transiting to Prince Rupert was wood or agriculture products in nature,  the future will offer a significant increase that will deliver much more hazardous cargo mostly hydro-carbon based.

He asked that after Council has had a chance to review the material he had submitted that Council write to the Federal Transport Minister, Mr. Nobels also noted that the topic will be up for discussion at the upcoming NCLGA meeting and how he hopes the city will take action on those discussion themes.

For her part Ms. Fitzpatrick outlined concerns in the community about such issues as emissions, train noise and the potential for major incidents in the Prince Rupert Freight yard area. She spoke of the idling of engines, the release of air  brakes, emissions generated, vibrations from passing train cars and the ongoing shunting that takes place in the rail yard which impacts on the residents of the immediate area.

She also expressed concerns for the potential of derailment that her organization believes is present in the rail yard.

The theme of the Wolverine Marine Terminal also made for some of the presentation, with Ms. Fitzpatrick asking if Council had any kind of update on that project, noting how it literally metres away from some of the homes along Graham Avenue.

The lack of information from CN on what is on the trains also made for some of their concerns, and how the safety of the community lies in the hands of City Council.

Towards that  her group had three requests of City Council:

Write a letter to the Prince Rupert Port Authority asking for some information on air quality in the community. Seeking access to the air data monitoring for the Westview site, asking for winter data for 2018 and 2019 also be made available and to have that data made available on the BC Air Quality monitoring site.

Engage with the Prince Rupert Environmental Society to seek solutions for the rail complaints by entering into the process of resolution by following guidelines of the Canadian Transport Agency.

The third request is that the City to develop an emergency response plan for the health and Safety of the residents of Prince Rupert. To be included as part of the plan will be public input and development of an evacuation protocol.

The Mayor observed that he had attended a meeting in April with the group and the Port to review some of their concerns, and how he would be happy to continue to  work with them to find some simple solutions towards their concerns.

( 31:30 -- 47:00 ) Presentation from  Cay Hulsen on Community Paramedicine in Prince Rupert -- Mr. Hulsen provided an overview about a relatively new project that has been launched by the Ministry of Health four years ago  and  introduced in Prince Rupert six months ago.

The twelve year veteran paramedic in Prince Rupert offered how it is made up of four components

Provide services at community events, such as Seafest or local marathon events

Promote Health issues in the community by way of public education through schools and other groups to make presentations

Wellness checks on community members in public spaces

Provide for home visits to provide assistance for those with chronic disease and palliative care by referral from Doctors.

He observed how over the last six years of the program he has worked with a number of community organizations to expand the scope of the program in Prince Rupert.

He also noted that as his workload has grown, a second position is planned to be added to the Prince Rupert ambulance station hopefully by the end of this summer.

If anyone has any questions or ideas on how they can help out he is available at the ambulance station to help provide more background on the program.

The Mayor asked if there was anything that the City can do to help with the program delivery.

On that theme, Mr. Houlson noted of some safety concerns for some of the residences where seniors live, noting that some of their facilities are not as secure as others in the community.

He also noted the concerns in the community over crosswalk and traffic issues in the city, noting of a recent visit to Whitehorse which he says has a traffic safety program the city could explore to see if it will work here.

On the theme of Seniors, Councillor Cunningham asked how residents could access the program if they don't have a family doctor, he was advised that they should go through the hospital in that instance.

Mr. Cunningham also suggested that the program work with the Seniors Centre to work towards fall prevention and other safety concerns for those Seniors who still live in their homes.

As part of the discussion on the services that are provided, the Councillor was advised that the program does have an outreach process for Seniors in their homes and how the city could lobby the ambulance service to ask for more resources to address more of the areas that are of concern.

Councillor Skelton-Morven also offered up his thoughts on the program and how it's a welcome presence in the community.

( 47:00 -- 53:00 ) Presentation from  Sarah Dantzer on Tranition Prince Rupert's plans for April which is Sustainability Month --  Ms. Dantzer provided an overview of the range of projects that Transition Prince Rupert has planned through the month, which include:

Green Business Pledge initiative

Documentary Night, featuring the movie Addicted to Plastic

Rupert Rubbish Round Up April 14th

Earth Day observations on April 22nd

Plant and Flower swap on April 27th

As well she provided some background  on the Green Business program that will be launched in the community as of April 1st. That program will ask that participants meet five of a list of ten criteria to take part, with stickers to be provided to those businesses that are proactive and engage in Green initiatives.

For the Documentary Night of April 12th at the Lester Centre which is by donation, Ms. Dantzer noted how they would be working with Charles Hays Secondary Council in that presentation as a fund raiser for their organization. She also observed that one of CHSS council members is a Direct of the Transition Society and how it's been enjoyable working with him.

Ms. Dantzer also noted that the Positive Prince Rupert Group will be holding another of their clean up project this month as well set for April 21st.

As part of her presentation she asked that Council provide a proclamation to declare April as Sustainability month in Prince Rupert.

In follow up questions, Councillor Cunningham praised the work of the organization and offered a challenge to other Council members to help out with the Rubbish round up, which he will be taking part in again.

Councillor Adey also offered up his support for the work of the organization in the community.

Mayor Brain, who was a founding member of the organization,  also offered his support for the program's plans,  hailing the work that the group has taken on to raise the program to a new level.

( 54:00 -- 54:30  Public comment period of Committee of Whole -- Such was the rush for the Mayor to move to the Regular Council Agenda, that he neglected to call for any comments on topics  outside of the budget consultation period that had taken place previous.


Regular Council Session

( 54 :30 -- 55:00 )   Regular City Council Session for Monday, March 25, 2019  --  Adoption of Agenda,  the Mayor called the Regular Council Session to order, with Council adopting the agenda and past minutes of previous minutes, with one addition of an opportunity for public comment on a variance application.  

55:00 -- 56:00  )   Application for Development Variance Permit for a property on 1089 Ambrose Avenue    -- No members of the public rose to speak to the variance request.

56:00 -- 59:00  ) Report from the Manager of Community Development  -- Council heard background on municipal referral for a cannabis location on Third Avenue West --  Hans Seidemann provided Council with the background related to the proposed cannabis application, observing that the city had only received three responses to the request for comments, he further observed that the applicant had complied with all requirements and that it was now up to Council to how they wish to provide a response to the provincial agency.

Councillor Adey made note of some of the elements related to the application process and the call for public comment, with a particular note of interest directed towards the response time that was listed on the city's website. Observing how as he found out that the duty to consult with the public is the proponents and not the city's and how all the steps had been taken.

Council then provided their  positive recommendation to the provincial agency.

(  59:00- 1:02:00 ) Report from the City Planner on the variance request for Ambrose Avenue  -- Council heard the details behind a request for the property variance -- Council then voted to approve the granting of the variance.

( 1:02:00:00 -- 1:04:00 ) Report from the the City Planner on a development variance for a property on  First Avenue West  --  Mr. Krekic provided the background to the request for the variance for a new build property, still to be completed to correct a layout measurement error.

Councillor Cunningham inquired as to why the error wasn't caught previously, he was advised that it was discovered when the site survey was conducted.

Council voted to approve the motion to have the request sent to public  notification.

( 1:04:00 -- 1:05:00) Proclamation to Declare April as Sustainability Month in Prince Rupert -- Council moved forward on a request from Transition Prince Rupert to declare April as Sustainability Month in Prince Rupert.

( 1:05:00 --1:09:00  ) Report from the City Planner on a request for changes to the Official Quality of Life Plan and zoning for property along the Ridley Access Road -- Mr. Krekic provided some background on plans from the Metlakatla Development Corporation to develop a parcel of land that has been handed over from the province of British Columbia along the Ridley Access Road.

As part of his review, he made note of some of the opportunities and the challenges for the Metlakatla plans to develop Warehousing structures to service the Port of Prince Rupert and Fairview Container Terminal.

Mayor Brain noted how he was looking forward to hearing from the public on this proposal.

Council voted to approve the motion and to send the process towards public notification on April 29th prior to the regular city council session.

( 1:09:00 --1:15:00  ) Report from the City Planner on plans for development of a property on Chamberlin Avenue   -- Mr. Krekic provided some background on the plans from the proponents of development of a property on Chamberlin Avenue, once known as the Neptune Inn. The City planner made note of the proponents previous work in the community and the required change in zoning for the development.

Councillor Cunningham inquired if there is any potential to add units to the site owing to the size of the lot, he was advised by Mr, Krekic that there is room but that he didn't think that there is much room for any further expansion.

Council voted to give first reading and to instruct the applicant to host a community information meeting.

( 1:15:00 - 1:17:00 ) Reports and Comments from Council members 

Councillor Adey made note of previous discussions on the evening about planning issues and recreational space in the community, offering up to council a need to be aware of the call in the community for access to recreational options and how there is a need for Council to attach some caution to losing those less formal land based recreation options.

In their quest for quality of life in the community, he reminded Council of the need to encourage development to help the community turn the corner economically, without losing sight of the things that people like to do in their time off work, noting the loss of access to the beach at Ridley Island as well as to access to the waterfront in the community.

He offered up caution that if not careful, the city could lose further access in the area.

Mayor Brain then brought the evening to a close.

You can access the City Council Review for March 25, 2019 herewhere a number of items regarding the council session, including links to local media coverage, can also be found.

As always, our Council Timeline is only a reflection of our observations from the Council session of the night. Be sure to consult with the official minutes from the City, when posted to their website for further review.

Official Minutes of the Regular Council Session from March  25, 2019 (not available yet)

In addition to the city's official minutes, the City's Video archive provides a helpful record of the events from each public council session.

Council members next meet on Monday, April  8, 2019. 

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

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